U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Tobacco Products
  3. Products, Guidance & Regulations
  4. Products, Ingredients & Components
  5. Cigarettes
  1. Products, Ingredients & Components

On this page:

What Are Cigarettes?

Cigarettes are still the most commonly used tobacco product in the United States. They are also responsible for the vast majority of all tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S. 

The basic components of most cigarettes are tobacco, chemical additives, a filter, and paper wrapping.  The tobacco is burned and then the smoke is inhaled. People who smoke are exposed to a toxic mix of over 7,000 chemicals, including more than 70 that can cause cancer, when they inhale cigarette smoke. 


Are You Looking for General Health and Safety Information Related to Cigarettes?

To protect the public health of the U.S. population from tobacco-related death and disease, FDA provides information about tobacco products, including cigarettes, and the dangers they pose to the public.

Chemicals in Cigarettes and Cigarette Tobacco

  • The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage nearly every organ in the body.
  • People who don’t smoke are exposed to many of these same chemicals through secondhand smoke.

Tobacco and tobacco smoke contain thousands of chemicals. This mix of chemicals—not nicotine—is what causes serious disease and death.

Roll-your-own tobacco products are not safer than other types of cigarettes. Just like with other types of cigarettes, harmful chemicals are inhaled when roll-your-own tobacco products are smoked.

Health Effects of Tobacco Use

No tobacco product is safe. However, the health risks for different tobacco products exist on a spectrum, which is sometimes referred to as a “continuum of risk.” Combusted, or smoked, tobacco products - such as cigarettes - are the most harmful type of tobacco product.

Quitting Smoking 

Quitting smoking is often difficult, and may take multiple attempts, but the longer someone who smokes can stay quit, the more the body gets to heal from the damage done by smoking.

Nearly 3 out of 4 adults who smoke say they would like to quit. Find  resources to help you quit

The Real Cost

The Real Cost

While cigarette use among youth has declined over the years, use of any tobacco product is a big concern to the FDA. 

FDA’s award-winning public education campaign, “The Real Cost,” continues to prevent youth from tobacco initiation and use.

Resources in the FDA Tobacco Education Resource Library

Learn more about print materials, web content, and social media posts available for free that help keep communities informed about tobacco-related issues.

See Cigarette and Smoking Resources

Report a Tobacco Product Problem or Violation

If you have experienced an unexpected health or safety issue with a specific tobacco product, you can report your adverse experience to FDA. Knowledge about adverse experiences can help FDA identify health or safety issues beyond those normally associated with product use.

If you believe these products are being sold to minors, or you see another potential violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) or FDA’s tobacco regulations, report the potential violation

Are You a Manufacturer of Cigarettes?

FDA regulates the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of cigarettes, including components, parts, and accessories, under the FD&C Act and its implementing regulations.

If you make, modify, mix, manufacture, fabricate, assemble, process, label, repack, relabel, or import cigarettes, you must comply with these requirements for manufacturers.

CTP’s Office of Small Business Assistance can answer specific questions about requirements of small businesses and how to comply with the law. This office also provides online educational resources to help regulated industry understand FDA regulations and policies.

Note: Tobacco products that meet the statutory or regulatory definition of a cigarette but are not combusted (do not exceed 350 °C) are categorized as “heated tobacco products” (HTPs) for purposes of FDA's premarket review. HTPs that meet the definition of a cigarette must be in compliance with the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements for cigarettes, unless otherwise noted in a marketing authorization order. Some tobacco products may meet the definition of a cigarette and, for the purposes of premarket review, the definition of a heated tobacco product.

Are You a Retailer of Cigarettes?

This is Our Watch

Tools for Retailers

This is Our Watch” is a voluntary education program with resources to help tobacco retailers better understand and comply with FDA tobacco regulations. Tobacco retailers play a direct role in protecting kids from nicotine addiction and the deadly effects of tobacco use. 

Learn what tobacco retailers need to do to comply with the rules designed to prevent our nation's youth from becoming the next generation of Americans to die prematurely from tobacco-related disease.

Did You Know?

It is illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21.

Retail Sales of Tobacco Products offers more information about federal rules that retailers must follow as well as information on regulations, guidance, and tools to help retailers comply.


Subscribe to CTPConnect

Get regular updates on the health effects of tobacco, public health educational resources, and highlights on current tobacco issues and regulations.

Back to Top